Audio, Haptics and other changes in the way we interact with technology

6 Mar

SXSW kicks off on the 9th and I’m looking forward to seeing what particular hits, misses and hypes come up.

But beyond the usual “marketing tech” I think the most interesting areas at the moment are around the way we physically interact with technology and media.

Two of the most innovative areas are Audio and Haptic technologies.


Audio in interaction design terms has been a long neglected area that is now exploding in terms of possibility and the potential for mainstream exploitation and adoption. The poster-child is obviously Siri on the iPhone 4s or Iris on Android but Ford has been employing Microsoft Sync—which also uses voice control extensively—in its cars for a few years, even in lower cost vehicles aimed at younger drivers. However, it is the use of Audio based interactions in the real or entertainment worlds where the interesting applications apply.

Sonic Notify is an interesting example. It uses Audio detection to deliver tailored and synched media content to people in a store, in front of a TV or at a concert. The media is actually transferred over audio via “the communication of data in the ultra high-frequency inaudible range between any speaker and microphone. The [Sonic Notify] decoding algorithm enables a common process for extracting data from audio using any microphone on any smartphone or tablet.”

If you can cope with the intense American spokes-model-weirdo below there’s an interesting demo:

Media can effectively “piggy back” on TV soundtracks, store PA systems, or radio ads and offer a richer experience without people having to use their own data allowances.

Similar Audio driven interactions are found in the eBay Application which synchs content and goods displayed with the TV programme people are watching – more Retail TV than Social TV or IntoNow.


Haptic technology is all about touch. It is incredibly personal and all about giving natural instantly understandable feedback to people. It is when technology starts to make a physical connection with people. It has been described as “doing for the sense of touch what computer graphics does for vision”.

We’re starting to see more high end implementations such Surgical Robots but the idea is leaking into more and more concept products such as the Seabird phone.

Or even concept haptic speakers.


Or potentially something (anything) that could save the Blackberry smart-ish-phone.

But ultimately Haptics is more than waving your hands or body in the air (Kinect) or trying to use a holographic projection or wall mounted Tablet (like Samsung’s CES Innovation award-winning Smart Window) which rapidly leads to a heavy, tired sensation, or “Gorilla Arm” as Human Computer Interface designers call it.

It is about creating a dynamic tactile medium which should be able to tangibly represent almost anything. That might be through a descendent of deformable materials (Shape Memory-alloy or Electroactive Polymers) or a descendent of haptic holography.

It is the Tangible User Interface and will play a big role in the future of mobile devices or even flexible eReader Paper.

So far, so Sci-fi, but could Haptic technology make the mainstream sooner than we think? If there’s anyone who can the technology into real people’s hands – not just those of early adopters – it’s the people at Apple.

The invite to the iPad 3 (or iPad HD?) launch hints that “We have something you really have to see. And touch” and people are taking this to be a trial for possible use of haptics.

If so it could be “a technology from Senseg, a Finnish startup which has developed a system called E-Sense which appears to give texture to a touchscreen. By using “tixels” generated by electric fields from elements embedded around the screen, it can make areas of the screen feel rough, ridged or rounded – and change those just as the screen pixels can change.” Guardian.

We’ll see soon. It could be hype.

It could be a red herring.

it could be a disappointment like the iPhone 5.

Hopefully it won’t be as under-whelming and over-priced as iAds. 😉


Trends for 2012 (and 2011)

13 Jan

JWT Intelligence in New York have put together their Annual Trend presentation – JWT: 100 Things to Watch in 2012


There’s lots of nice examples and from my own perspective I believe 2012 is all about the multi-screen strategy – with multi-screen UX & content strategies optimised by data analytics directly linked to business metrics.

This increasing focus on analytics and earned/owned media will mean that the capability of analysing large data sets will become a key basis of competition, underpinning new waves of productivity growth, innovation, and consumer surplus.

But then what do I know? Anyway, while clearing out my folders I found the note below which was my list of predictions for 2011. Hopefully I’ll be able to follow some of them up with examples over the next few weeks. The future ones for the next 5 years are a bit miserable though…

5 Questions related to the digital consumer experience for 2011

  1. “How can we move beyond reacting quickly and actually anticipate people’s needs in advance?”
  2. “What happens when mobile is someone’s only experience of the web?”
  3. “What happens when language is no longer a barrier and influences are global?”
“How can we grab people’s attention when there is so much out there vying for it?”
“How will people respond as more and more of their information and actions are public?”

Technology Themes for 2011

  • Real-time tracking, business transparency and flexibility
LTE, Streaming Home networks & personalised, on-demand content
  • Voice recognition, privacy groups and collaboration
  • Sensors & Internet of Things
Personalisation and predictive assistance
Multi-touch, portability and work/personal blending
Cloud-based entertainment subscriptions
Virtual Telepresence
  • Tangible User Interface
  • Geolocation, Game-mechanics, Digital to real social
  • Gaming and SocialTV intersection
  • Personal relationships, Cloud-computing and Single customer view
Automatic multi-tasking and background activity

Possible wider cultural trends & influences for the next 5 years

  • The admission (and panic) that we hit peak oil in mid-00’s
4th wave of global financial crisis (2nd wave 2011/12, 3rd 2016)
Power and food prices rocket (200% increase in consumer electricity and gas costs by 2015)
A marked increase in societal polarisation in western economies as the middle-class dissipates and states fragment.
  • China secures (financially & militarily) its ownership of natural and economic resources abroad
First wave of massive Malthusian positive checks

JWT Business Card powered by Blippar

2 Dec


A little bit of fun with Blippar and our Experience Team. JWT London has created a truly unique and innovative way to showcase the agency’s latest showreel on the back of their business cards by using Blippar™, the first image-recognition app for smartphones targeted at brand-customer interaction.

Contextual advertising #Fail from Qantas

23 Nov

Just doing a bit a research and came across this little gem of a contextual network buy.

Hilbert’s Infinite Hotel – from a collection of 60-Second Adventures in Thought

30 Oct

Do like these little videos…worth a look

A Page 3 girl, Rankin and a WTF moment for Testicular Cancer Awareness

16 Sep

Definitely one for the boys…Lingerie model and page 3 girl Rhian Sugden shows us her raunchy side in this darkly seductive short film shot by world renowned photographer Rankin.

The “educational” viral “Rhian Touches herself” aims to eliminate the embarrassment surrounding young men – particularly 18-35 year olds – checking themselves and understanding the early signs for testicular cancer and has been produced by JWT London for MCAC. It’s already being picked up and talked about online, especially in places like Nuts Magazine – The Economist of Lads Mags…

Hopefully the “shock & awe” will drive viewers through to the charity’s website and it will also be supported by an ambient teaser campaign throughout London. Look out for the cards (and the QR codes).

MCAC was set up in 2005 by Patrick Cox, who had a testicular cancer scare during his early-30s. The charity aims to eliminate any stigma surrounding the idea of regular testicle examination and encourages young men to seek professional help.

Patrick Cox, Chief Executive at MCAC, said: “This is without doubt the boldest and most daring testicular cancer awareness video I have ever seen!  We are the bold and daring charity and we are hugely proud of this important film. Our aim is to educate young men about the need to check themselves for testicular cancer, a subject treated with a degree of awkwardness. By using our brand ambassador Rhian Sugden to dramatic effect we hope to cut-through the usual cancer messages that young men face”.

Go on. Share it and check yourself out.

Listerine Mouth vs Life – Youtube fun and games and Autoplaylists

10 Jun

Listerine Mouth vs Life YouTube Channel

What do you put your mouth through? Sucking pens, biting your nails and all those fizzy drinks? Yes, unfortunately I do.

Anyway, that’s the idea behind Mouth vs Life an interactive YouTube Channel from Listerine.

The experience encourages people to choose the different things they use their mouths for (not just eating and drinking), and then puts together a personalised information film; except this film has comical teeth and gums, with giant sized or multitudinous items fired in rapid succession at them. In one bit they even take a beating from a psychotic cupcake (our very own Joe Fox).

No one was hurt and we tested the weapons extensively

It’s fun.

It’s simple (no participation for participation sake, please upload a video of you performing brain surgery while stealing a sandwich and swishing your hair, or Like-Blocked Facebook FanPage/App with just the agency “Liking” it, and it’s not a piece of matching luggage even though I do think our new Listerine TV Ad is quite lovely) though it does get personalised on user interaction*.

*It is the first use of YouTube’s Auto-Playlist Functionality by a brand to create a video on the fly. Yep a First!!!**

**Even if it does stop the YouTube Public View Counts from updating…grr

Anyway, have a look. Hope you like it and the Warm-up clip below will haunt your dreams forever…

Well done to Paul B, Alex, Sarah, Joe, Yoni, Patrick, Matt, Saima, and loads of others at Listerine and JWT London. And here’s the Mouth vs Life Director’s Cut

Milky Bars are on me, now draw!

21 Apr

iPhone Screenshot 2

Chocolate has changed a bit since my childhood. It’s got pretentious (72.3% Organic coca with crushed bettlenut from only the left hand side of the fair-trade field anyone?), samey (Fruit, Nuts, Caramel, whatever) and overcomplicated (So I need to decide whether I’m a Spot or a what? Enter a code, post a picture, join a crusade? I just want to eat a bar of it).

Remember when it was just fun?

Chocolate is tasty and fun. Anyway that’s where this little toy comes from

Today JWT London launched ‘The Milkybar Showdown’, a fun iPhone wild west style showdown that you play across 2 connected iPhones. You can get it here: Milkybar Showdown

You have to be quick on the draw to beat your opponents. This increases the bounty on your head and sets you on your way to becoming a Milkybar legend.

Trufax: I was once mistaken for the Milkybar kid.

Privacy as a luxury good for 2011

17 Dec

From DeleteMe to Path, it looks like a renewed desire for privacy and a retreat to smaller social networks where you actually “know” your friends are together shaping up to be a key trend for 2011.

Dana Boyd’s thoughts on this area are leading the way but in the meantime some businesses are already dipping their toes in the water.

It’s just a shame that Path, the first great hyped service in this area, turns out to be so…well…spammy…

Anyway while we’re crystal ball gazing, my money is on Facebook moving into online dating in 2011 using the social graph to do away with those questionnaires & offer really compatible matches. Maybe even a little purchase of OkCupid?

10 trends for 2011 in 2.15mins

1 Dec

A little video intro to the JWTIntelligence 2011 Trends report…